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I've Got Plenty of Nothing

Monday, May 22, 2006

the view out the kitchen window.

Today is the birthday of Peter Matthiessen, born in New York City in 1927. The Writer's Almanac told me so. Of all the wonderful things he's written, this is the quote they picked:

"There's an elegiac quality in watching [American wilderness] go, because it's our own myth, the American frontier, that's deteriorating before our eyes. I feel a deep sorrow that my kids will never get to see what I've seen, and their kids will see nothing; there's a deep sadness whenever I look at nature now."

I think Peter Matthiessen needs a May weekend at Indigo Hill. My kids are of the generation he's bemoaning, and they've got a whole lot of nothing. Maybe it's just recovering mesic deciduous forest; there are no grizzlies or wolves, but there are coyotes and bobcats, box turtles and a dozen species of breeding warblers; chats and brown thrashers singing; sun hitting off fresh leaves. Maybe we're easily amused. Maybe the natural world is all full of nothing. It depends on your perspective. I can't imagine Matthiessen would have picked that particular quote to sum up his great life's work.

The Writer's Almanac usually comes in during the wee hours. This one came in at 1 AM on a Monday morning. Perhaps the compiler would have picked another quote after some sleep, and a latte or two. Make no mistake--I love their work, and most every day I find something to file away and return to later for a talk or an essay. But this one hit me wrong.

We all make our own weather, and we've had way too much rain lately.


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